A Little Tact Goes a Long Way

John Ruskin KindnessI know a lot of my friends read the blog STFU, Parents with avid delight. There’s just something so addictive about it. It’s half watching a train wreck and half reassuring that you’re really an ok parent! You read some of these posts and think, “Well I may not have managed to get the explosive poop diaper off the kid without creating a huge mess…BUT AT LEAST I DIDN’T TAKE PICTURES OF IT FOR FACEBOOK!”

You know, that kind of thing.

One of my favorite features on the blog are the various “mommyjackings”. Usually they’re just eyerollingly self-indulgent. Someone posts a status of, “I got my PhD today!” and a friend comments, “Pffft, PhD? It’s my baby’s BIRTHDAY!”  You get the idea. Another thing that apparently goes on in Facebookland is holiday jacking. What’s that you say, you’re fasting for Yom Kippur? Crazy talk – it’s my baby’s birthday! Eat the cake!

Last week on September 13th a new post went live titled, “9/11 Round Up of Inappropriateness”. Oh man…do you really want to read this? Yes, yes you do.

After you’ve digested the idea that some people really, truly think they should talk about the “tears, prayers, and love” of 9/11 in the same breath as they “offer” us a “giggle” about their kid pooping in the bathtub… you should then read through the comments on the STFU, Parents Facebook page. Come back to me when you pick your jaw up off the floor.

I watched the comments come in on this one in shock. I commented very early on because I thought that it was obvious that the posters singled out were behaving in poor taste. Apparently though there is a segment of the American population that thinks it’s ok to be an ass about memorializing 9/11. I don’t even know what to think about some of these comments made on this Facebook page. I’m stunned really. 

There are a lot of “it’s been 12 years – move on!” comments. People defending the outright rudeness and plain old tackiness of the original posts mentioned in the blog. My personal take as a New Yorker? Twelve years is like it was yesterday. A lot of us have horrific memories of that day and I imagine people in D.C. do too.

This year I was invited to attend a fashion conference that was held on the 11th. I was actually very hesitant to attend because how could I promote it on social media without looking like an idiot (and part of attending that type of thing absolutely is promoting it on social media)? There’s my husband tweeting from the Ground Zero memorial and interviewing Ray Kelly about what the day means to the NYPD and I’m supposed to be all…here are some new jeans!?

See what I mean?

We discussed it and reminded ourselves that life has indeed moved forward, and we are so blessed that it has. We knew that tact would be required with the social media aspect (as it should be every day!). I went to the fashion conference. Roger contributed to the annual coverage of the memorial. Life was lived, and we both tweeted about our days. Hopefully without offending anyone.

Now what does this all have to do with parenting? With Jack? With this blog even? A whole heck of a lot if you ask me. With Jack in my life I’ve added an additional reaction to bad behavior. It used to be I would simply look on in stunned disbelief and resolve to personally never be that big of an ass. Now I do those things and also inwardly vow to find a way to help my son never grow up to be that person.

What has happened to our society that we think it’s perfectly acceptable to act in such a manner? Many of these commenting think that is ok to lose sight of all tact in a public situation (and yes, Facebook is VERY public; I’m sorry if you don’t realize that).  Being rude and insensitive and only concerned with yourself is never acceptable. I’m sure many an essay and even books have been and are being written on the subject. It is not my intention to do either. I think I’d have to go back to school and study child psychology or some such subject before I could do so with any sort of credibility. Instead I simply want to take a moment and look at this issue.

I want to acknowledge that I do not want my child to grow into an adult who thinks this is the proper way to react to tragedy. Whether it happened today, last year, twelve years ago, one hundred or thousands of years ago. Tragic human events should never be treated with such callousness. The world is bigger than he is, and he needs to know that. Compassion and simple tact are two things I want to teach him. I sincerely hope I find a way to instill these traits in him because I think they will make him a better human being. Feel free to pass on any ideas you have (or lengthy essays and books) because when it comes to learning how to process and observe human tragedy I think we all need a lot of help. Clearly.

Another thought I’ve been kicking around is how this is all tied to our growing pains with social media. “Oh it’s just Facebook…” How many times have you heard that one? Do I want to raise a child who doesn’t understand the permanence of social media and the internet and how very, very public it is? The immediacy of social media can make it seem ephemeral and yet it clearly isn’t. Some would suggest that we keep our children off social media entirely until they are much older. I’m not so sure that’s the solution as obviously we are all going to need to learn how to behave on it. It’s not going away anytime soon. I think I’ll investigate this thought on another day though – my head and heart hurts too much right now from reading through those comments on the STFU, Parents Facebook page.

What do you think, am I overreacting here?



A Little Tact Goes a Long Way — 4 Comments

  1. I read through those comments on the STFU page…I must say I find myself speechless. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that, STFU is for entertainment people! It says it right there on the damn page! I don’t understand when we all became so sensitive and pissed off at each other. These comments are just another example of people ignoring the fact that we all have different opinions AND are we are entitled to them. If you don’t like what someone has to say, making hurtful statements and pissy comments doesn’t do anyone any good. I think we would all benefit if we took a deep breath and re-read what we wrote before we hit “post”. Ask yourself, would I want someone to say this to or about me?

  2. I do agree with a lot of what you have expressed here. It’s a terrific post. It is amazing to me at how insensitive and snarky people can be on the internet. It almost gives people free reign to be an ass to one another. It’s sad really when people just can’t be a little respectful when it comes to things like 9/11. Raise Jack to love, honor, and respect and he will make you proud.
    Phil recently posted…Let’s go ballin’ in Brooklyn! Skee Ball Mania in NYC!My Profile

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